Distal refers to sites located away from a specific area, most often the center of the body. In medicine, it refers to parts of the body further away from the center. For example, the hand is distal to the shoulder. The thumb is distal to the wrist.
Distal is the opposite of proximal. Distal refers to distance, while proximal indicates proximity.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary website. Distal. www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distal. Accessed February 6, 2023.
Review Date: 2/2/2023
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.